Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reading Readiness: Tips for Your Young Child

Children who are provided with plentiful reading opportunities are more likely to succeed and go further in school than those who don’t have reading materials provided at home. This is a finding by the International Survey Center and University of Nevada, Reno, United States, in the article; Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations (2010). 

Good reading habits start in the home. It doesn’t matter what kind of educational background parents or caregivers have, what matters is what a parent does to promote a love of reading before their child starts school. Helping a child toward being a skillful reader requires a few simple steps and habits that will lead them toward being an enthusiastic learner.

From just a few months of age, children want to explore everything and will look at pictures, listen to your voice and point to objects that interest them. Helping toddlers associate pictures with words is a big step in their understanding words relate to things. Point out signs you pass by while driving and read as many words as you encounter.

Read every day to your child. This can’t be stressed enough.  Books help stimulate a child’s imagination so that they can see the world outside of themselves. Toddlers are so self-centered, reading stories and talking about what the character is feeling and thinking helps them to realize other people have feelings, too. 

Activity: Reading Free-choice
Allow your child to pick out the books they want to read. If they pick out difficult books, you can still help them with picture reading and picking out words they do recognize. Listen when your child reads a book. No, they will not actually be reading words at this age, but they will mimic what they’ve heard you read, and they will read the pictures. Ask questions as they read.

“What is the puppy doing here?”
“What do you think he’s digging for?”
“Does he look happy/sad? Why?”

Talk about what they see and ask them what they think. This stimulates their reasoning skills and helps them to relate to what’s happening in the book, showing them how to be an active reader. 

Pre-School Age
When your child reaches 3 to 5 years of age, their curiosity about the world is at a staggering height. Feed that curiosity by letting them do things with you, especially those things that require reading. Cooking a cake requires reading the recipe. Show your child the back of the box. Most have pictures of what is needed. Help them to find the word eggs that will match the picture of the eggs. Continue the word and picture association which reinforces that words have meanings. Now is the time to add letters to their learning. Letters make up words that have meaning in our world.

Activity: It’s in the Name
Young children love seeing their names and knowing that word belongs to them.

Card-stock or cardboard paper
Pencils, crayons, markers
Macaroni, beans, glitter, sequins or other small crafty objects

Start by printing an outline of your child’s name in either dashes or using a yellow highlighter. Allow them to trace the letters. They must say each letter as they write it. Once their name is written, allow them “write” the letters with small beads of glue. Younger children will need help. Make sure they say each letter as they add the glue. Now, let them decorate their name with the macaroni, beans or whichever item you’ve chosen. Once their creation is dry, hang somewhere where they can run their fingers over the letters and repeat them over and over.

Let them make their whole names. The more letters they begin to recognize, the closer they are to memorizing the alphabet, which is a big first step in reading readiness.  

Simple, fun activities done throughout the summer will help your child be ahead of the game when school starts in the fall. 

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